Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Damn you Windows Vista, Harrisons 1854 Regent Terrace, Lancashire lollop


sorry for a distinct lack of posts of late, I got stupid arse Windows Vista (it was free, I know that everyone who has ever used it hates it) installed on my P.C to cure my virus problems. Unfortunately, the new IE9 browser helps me to not see or even log on to most websites, mainly this one, by claiming the website doesn't work.

So, in the busiest fortnight of the year so far for going out, I have been amputated from the net, with shoddy consequences.

Anyhoo, grumble aside, my first topic is the result of a Tuesday wander raand taarn last week. I checked for the 40th time that the 3 Cranes still had not reopened, and then went into a virtually empty Dog and Partridge to find the beer was still Tetley and no-one able to answer my question about guest beers. It was interesting looking at the layout and features of the Dog - a venue previously so busy that you could only get a vague impression of its appearance, rather like seeing something from a car window whilst you rush past at high speed.

The pub, as I mentioned earlier, is quite plain now having lost a lot of ephemera to the Grapes, but has a pleasing simplicity, with sturdy seating round the edges, a magnificent snug, with, according to who you believe, late 1800's graffiti carved in the panels. There is also the long room at the back, previously used for live music, and first choice position for numerous redoubtable stalwarts of hours in the same pub, probably for every one of their drinking years. I have not been in the back room since the Flynns moved up the street, and seeing as I was the only customer at about 19.30 I decided that I wanted to stay at the top end near the bar, on the off chance someone might also come in for a drink.

As you can see from the above pics, the front window view in the Dog is almost the same as the Red Deer (minus candles). I noticed that as I was sat drinking my pint of Saltaire Blond, which was a fantastically refreshing drink, admiring the nuances in light and appearance afforded by the candles that a member of staff was dutifully placing on each table.I should point out however that this similarity was made more obvious by scanning through my phone photographs. More of the Red Deer news in a mo.

In between times, i did reach Trippets for a pint and a quite contemplation in my usual spot near the reading material, supping a somewhat pricey Thornbridge Alchemy, brewed with Bishop hops. This was a familiar but distinct enough to be interesting, pale brew that went down all too quickly. Trippets seemed to be fairing slightly better than the Dog in having quite a few customers, and not just the evening suits brigade either, showing that its a popular venue with people wanting a quiet after work chat and drink, as well as those intent on power conferencing whilst supping, and the likes of myself, supping quietly alone, perhaps reading, likely spotting photo opportunities.

I did go to the red Deer next, but decided against having a bite to eat, so instead settled down to slowly sup my pint and observe the pub filling up, and as I said, watch the careful preparation of the venue for the evening

At this juncture I should point

out there is an excellent if eclectic choice of music playing at the Red Deer - I don't think there is a jukebox, but its testament to the musical knowledge and tastes of the staff that an older gentleman like myself can nod and tap my feet to new and well recognised tunes, whilst the numerous students, most with more than a decade on me, can display the same appreciation.

Now, in a recent beer matters copy I saw a list of city centre pubs and bars selling real ale accompanied by an optimistically small map which struggled to overcome the honeycomb affect of so many venues in such a small place all needing a mention. Apart from one or two inaccuracies, it was a helpful list, and mentioned a venue I had never visited before.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a copy on me so all I could remember was that it was somewhere off West Street and had a date in its name. Round the corner from the Deer the former dreadful Soyo bar had metamorphosed into a Cuban themed venue, with reference in its name to the revolution - aha I thought, even without seeing a specific date this was clearly the venue I was thinking of. Alas, on entering, I quickly revised this theory, as the barman apologetically acknowledged that more than half of the slightly bland selection of continental keg beers was off.

So I went next along Pitt Street heading for what I had thought the week before might be a restaurant or a bar but was unsure if it was, or even whether I should venture inside. On the wall of this former factory was a sign - Harrisons 1854 Steeplejacks - of Nelsons Column fame. I decided, noting the date reference, to peak in through a window and to my joy spotted real live handpumps, and so ventured in.

The interior is very minimal and modern, with some feminine touches here and there, and a long and perhaps overly modernist stainless steel bar, which Dave the barkeep points out was installed by the previous incumbents. There is one large room housing the bar and some high tables and bar stools, and the way out to what i am assured is a suntrap yard ( it was a trifle cool on this occasion so i have not confirmed this yet), with a relaxing yet slightly chilly lounge area to the right with comfy leather sofas and slightly avant-garde modern decor.

he bar sports 3 handpumps, all of which were in use on my visit, a box of real cider, and a number of continental beer fonts such as Brooklyn ( sorry, that's intercontinental I know ) lager and Erdinger Wheat beer. There is a decent wine list, Dave does a mean cocktail if you ask, and there's a good range of imported bottled beers and some of those dreadful but inexplicably popular fruit flavoured ciders - remembering of course that cider is already fruit flavoured, but hey, that's marketing for you. And don;t even get me started on pear cider...

So back to Harrisons, and I was having a rather tired (the beer, not me) pint of Abbeydale Surrealism ale, which was cloudy but tasted alright. The moonshine was not on good form either, but visiting again on the Wednesday I discovered this was simply a slow sales problem, and drawing a pint or two off revealed a familiar drinking friend, and Moonshine was in good nick again.

From talking to Dave, It seems the former Harrisons works were converted to restaurant use by the family in the 1980's and leased out to a couple of swanky restaurants, most recently the Ivory. After that arrangement had ended, 15 months ago, the family converted it into its present state, as a crisp, clean looking city centre bar.

On this visit, as well as soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the scale of the main room, I was also amused by the incongruous blend of background music - not that the choice was in anyway bizarre or unsuitable, but its modern sounds were intermittently drowned out by the joyous brass tones coming from upstairs.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays the upstairs room is hired by the Sheffield brass band for practising. So as a pleasing and slow building Unkle track ( get me, with my modern musical knowledge, erm, from 7 years ago ), you are suddenly transported to a band stand on may day and an upbeat reprise of the floral dance. Personally, I think this odd mixture is fantastic, but perhaps brass or electronic music aficionados may find it a bit difficult to appreciate....

I finished on a couple of pints of the Abbeydale Deception, which was in good form, and was the beer of choice for a couple of blokes who came in and were discussing when they either worked there or dealt with the Harrisons back in the days when the firm operated from this city centre site.

I suggested to Dave that some bar snacks wouldn't go amiss, since they had quickly stopped their own food operation soon after reopening as Harrisons, but of course its not really up to the convivial barman to make changes. That said, I had chance to suggest it to the owner the next day when I went in with Chala, an evening I will have to tell you about next time.

Having enjoyed my first visit, having left puzzled at how Harrissons could have been open 15 months and selling real ales without my hearing about it, I headed for a last one in the Bath.

The pub was busy but I was able to get a few pics on my phone from the vantage point of the far right corner, where I don't usually sit. The Itchen Valley beer sounded great but smelt grim and tasted not much better, so I had it swapped for the Deception, which in the end i had 2 pints of. A pleasant end to an interesting night of new experiences.

Alas I haven't time to tell you about Lancashire or indeed anything else as I am off out for Chala's birthday in 30 minutes.

So, Vista permitting, I'll be back ASAP

Wee Beefy

1 comment:

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